The Jerusalem Council, under the leadership of Judas Maccabee established the feast of Channukahas a common statute and decree as we read in 1st Maccabees:
And gathered together Y'hudah and his brothers all the congregation of the
assembly of Israel to establish the days of the dedication of the alter at this
time eight days. In every year and in the year and month and made it in the
month of Kislev in joy and in gladness.
(1Macc. 4:59 HRV)
And as we read in 2nd Maccabees:
5 Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very
same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same
month, which is Kislev.
6 And they kept the eight days with gladness, as in the feast of the
tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the
tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts.
7 Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang
psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place.
8 They ordained also by a common statute and decree, That every year those days
should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.
(2Macc. 10:5-8 KJV)
2nd Maccabees opens with two attached letters from the Jerusalem Council, the first is addressed to the Jews in Egypt in general:
1 The brothers, the Y'hudim that be at Yerushalayim and in the land of Y'hudah,
wish unto the brothers, the Y'hudim that are throughout Egypt, shalom, shalom
and blessings be with you:
2 Elohim be good to you, and remember his covenant that he made with Avraham,
Yiz'chak, and Ya'akov, his faithful servants;
3 And give you all an heart to serve him, and to do his will, with a good
courage and a willing mind;
4 And open your hearts in his Torah and commandments, and send you shalom,
5 And hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time
6 And now we are here praying for you.
7 What time as Demetrius reigned, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we
the Y'hudim wrote unto you in the extremity of trouble that came upon us in
those years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the
set-apart land and kingdom,
8 And burned the porch, and shed innocent blood: then we prayed unto YHWH, and
were heard; we offered also sacrifices and fine flour, and lit the menorahs, and
set forth the loaves.
9 And now see that you keep the feast of Sukkot in the month Kislev.
(2 Macc. 1:1-9)
And the second is to Aristobulus, a teacher of King Ptolemy and to the Jews in Egypt:
10 In the hundred fourscore and eighth year, the people that were at
Yerushalayim and in Y'hudah, and the council, and Y'hudah, sent greeting and
health unto Aristobulus, king Ptolemy's master, who was of the stock of the
anointed cohenim, and to the Y'hudim that were in Egypt:
11 Insomuch as Elohim has delivered us from great perils, we thank him highly,
as having been in battle against a king.
12 For he cast them out that fought within the set-apart city.
13 For when the leader was come into Persia, and the army with him that seemed
invincible, they were slain in the Temple of Nanea by the deceit of Nanea's
14 For Antiochus, as though he would marry her, came into the place, and his
friends that were with him, to receive money in name of a dowry.
15 Which when the priests of Nanea had set forth, and he was entered with a
small company into the compass of the Temple, they shut the Temple as soon as
Antiochus was come in:
16 And opening a privy door of the roof, they threw stones like thunderbolts,
and struck down the captain, hewed them in pieces, smote off their heads and
cast them to those that were without.
17 Blessed be our Elohim in all things, who has delivered up the ungodly.
18 Therefore whereas we are now purposed to keep the purification of the Temple
upon the five and twentieth day of the month Kislev, we thought it necessary to
certify you thereof, that you also might keep it, like the feast of the Sukkot,
and of the fire, which was given us when Nechemyah offered sacrifice, after that
he had built the Temple and the altar.
19 For when our fathers were led into Persia, the cohenim that were then devout
took the fire of the altar privily, and hid it in an hollow place of a pit
without water, where they kept it sure, so that the place was unknown to all
20 Now after many years, when it pleased Elohim, Nechemyah, being sent from the
king of Persia, did send of the posterity of those cohenim that had hid it to
the fire: but when they told us they found no fire, but thick water;
21 Then commanded he them to draw it up, and to bring it; and when the
sacrifices were laid on, Nechemyah commanded the cohenim to sprinkle the wood
and the things laid thereupon with the water.
22 When this was done, and the time came that the sun shone, which afore was hid
in the cloud, there was a great fire kindled, so that every man marvelled.
23 And the cohenim made a prayer whilst the sacrifice was consuming, I say, both
the cohenim, and all the rest, Yahunatan beginning, and the rest answering
thereunto, as Nechemyah did.
24 And the prayer was after this manner; O YHWH, YHWH Elohim, Creator of all
things, who are fearful and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only
and gracious King,
25 The only giver of all things, the only just, almighty, and everlasting, you
that deliver Yisrael from all trouble, and did choose the fathers, and sanctify
26 Receive the sacrifice for your whole people Yisrael, and preserve your own
portion, and sanctify it.
27 Gather those together that are scattered from us , deliver them that serve
among the heathen, look upon them that are despised and abhorred, and let the
heathen know that you are our Elohim.
28 Punish them that oppress us, and with pride do us wrong.
29 Plant your people again in your set-apart place, as Moshe has spoken .
30 And the cohenim sung psalms of thanksgiving.
31 Now when the sacrifice was consumed, Nechemyah commanded the water that was
left to be poured on the great stones.
32 When this was done, there was kindled a flame: but it was consumed by the
light that shined from the altar.
33 So when this matter was known, it was told the king of Persia, that in the
place, where the cohenim that were led away had hid the fire, there appeared
water, and that Nechemyah had purified the sacrifices therewith.
34 Then the king, inclosing the place, made it set-apart, after he had tried the
35 And the king took many gifts, and bestowed thereof on those whom he would
36 And Nechemyah called this thing Naphthar, which is as much as to say, a
cleansing: but many men call it Nephi.
1 It is also found in the records, that Yeremiyahu the prophet commanded them
that were carried away to take of the fire, as it has been signified:
2 And how that the prophet, having given them the Torah, charged them not to
forget the commandments of YHWH, and that they should not err in their minds,
when they see images of silver and gold, with their ornaments.
3 And with other such speeches exhorted he them, that the Torah should not
depart from their hearts.
4 It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of
Elohim, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth
onto the mountain, where Moshe climbed up , and saw the heritage of YHWH .
5 And when Yeremiyahu came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the
tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.
6 And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not
7 Which when Yeremiyahu perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it
shall be unknown until the time that Elohim gather his people again together,
and receive them unto mercy.
8 Then shall YHWH show them these things, and the glory of YHWH shall appear,
and the cloud also, as it was showed under Moshe, and as when Shlomo desired
that the place might be honourably sanctified.
9 It was also declared, that he being wise offered the sacrifice of dedication,
and of the finishing of the Temple .
10 And as when Moshe prayed unto YHWH, the fire came down from heaven, and
consumed the sacrifices : even so prayed Shlomo also, and the fire came down
from heaven, and consumed the burnt offerings .
11 And Moshe said, Because the sin offering was not to be eaten, it was consumed
.12 So Shlomo kept those eight days .
13 The same things also were reported in the writings and commentaries of
Nechemyah; and how he founding a library gathered together the acts of the
kings, and the prophets, and of David, and the epistles of the kings concerning
the set-apart gifts.
14 In like manner also Y'hudah gathered together all those things that were lost
by reason of the war we had, and they remain with us,
15 Wherefore if you have need thereof, send some to fetch them unto you.
16 Whereas we then are about to celebrate the purification, we have written unto
you, and you shall do well, if you keep the same days.
17 We hope also, that the Elohim, that delivered all his people, and gave them
all a heritage, and the kingdom, and the priesthood, and the sanctuary,
18 As he promised in the Torah, will shortly have mercy upon us, and gather us
together out of every land under heaven into the set-apart place : for he has
delivered us out of great troubles, and has purified the place.
19 Now as concerning Y'hudah Maccabee, and his brothers, and the purification of
the great Temple, and the dedication of the altar,
20 And the wars against Antiochus Epiphanes, and Eupator his son,
21 And the manifest signs that came from heaven unto those that behaved
themselves manfully to their honour for Judaism : so that, being but a few, they
overcame the whole country, and chased barbarous multitudes,
22 And recovered again the Temple renowned all the world over, and freed the
city, and upheld the laws which were going down, YHWH being gracious unto them
with all favour:
23 All these things, I say, being declared by Jason of Cyrene in five books, we
will assay to abridge in one volume. [i.e. 2nd Maccabees]
(2nd Maccabees 1:10-2:23)
The Pharisees said:
What is the reason for Channukah? For our Rabbis taught: On
the 25th of Kislev begin the days of Channukah, which are
eight, during which lamentation for the dead and fasting are
forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they
defiled all the oils in it, and when the Hasmonean dynasty
prevailed against and defeated them, they [the Maccabees]
searched and found only one cruse of oil which possessed the
seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient oil for
only one day's lighting; yet a miracle occurred there and they
lit [the lamp] for eight days. The following year these days
were appointed a Festival with the recitation of Hallel and
The Feast Channukah was established by our forefathers as eight days of rejoicing beginning with the 25th of Kislev.
Therefore the International Nazarene Beit Din declares that each year eight days beginning with the 25th of Kislev shall be celebrated as The Feast of Channukah.
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